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A Risk Manager’s Winery Party Nightmare

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“The party is out at the winery so… everyone will be mostly drinking… wine?”

It was clear Dan, the risk manager, was mentally sorting through possible outcomes for the fraternity’s planned formal at the winery in his head, and that absolutely none of his projections were optimistic. They never really were though. Besides, he wasn’t given — or good at — the job because he was an optimist. And having the job of risk manager never put him in any danger of becoming more of one. Put him in danger? Sure. All the time, in fact. But in danger of increased optimism? No more than having your scrotum repeatedly pummeled by baseballs every ten seconds makes you hopeful that there won’t be another nut-smashing fastball stamping out the wrinkles on your sack at any moment while you’re standing in front of a pitching machine.

Dan didn’t want to be a drag, but knew that a good risk manager buys a fire extinguisher. He doesn’t say, “I’m sure everyone here — including our three psychologically diagnosed pyromaniac members — will behave themselves around these gallons upon gallons of high proof liquor and all the discarded lighters lying around the house.” A lesson the previous risk manager learned the hard, burn unit-y way.

“There’ll be beer there too,” the social chair replied. “I’d guess most of the guys will be drinking beer.”

Nick, the chapter’s social chair, had of course anticipated Dan’s uneasiness and was ready to lie about, omit, or downplay whatever he needed to in order to make the winery party a go. For example, wine was obviously going to be served at the winery party, though Nick at first tried to lie about that as well.

“I thought a winery was just a bar,” Nick had coyly claimed.

“Winery. Wine. Ery. It makes wine. Wine is their thing. It’s the main the drink there!” Dan frustratedly insisted.

“Sorrrryyyyyyyyy. I hadn’t really etymologized the name,” Nick replied before moving on as if he hadn’t just tried to insist upon something outrageous. He was a pro.

Even with the original jig up, Nick was still going to try his hardest to fail to mention that 12 ounce cups of beer would be $3 (the beer having roughly a 4.5% ABV), while the winery would also be serving 25.4 ounce bottles of wine for $17 (the wine having roughly a 14% ABV). To Nick every party was a fireworks show, and it was his job to make sure the sky was on fire. This was an analogy he appreciated, being one of the house’s three diagnosed pyromaniacs.

Nick knew it wouldn’t take the chapter long to figure out how to most economically, and gleefully transform themselves into raving savages. They were like werewolves who thoroughly enjoyed being werewolves, blasting lines of cocaine after they realized it would expedite their transformation on nights with a full moon.

Many in the chapter would also be doing cocaine that night. Though that was strictly(ish) not on the social chair’s agenda.

Dan was on the first bus to the winery the night of the party. He and the rest of the early arrivers were let off just in front of a barn that constituted a main party area. To the left there was an outdoor area with a large bonfire. Nick hadn’t mentioned a bonfire.

Of course he hadn’t, Dan thought.

This wasn’t surprising to Dan. Nick usually omitted important details about parties. Like the time he didn’t mention that the ballroom for their most recent away weekend was at a zoo. Three penguins died of alcohol poisoning that night. And two pledges got food poisoning after eating fish… that was meant to be eaten by penguins. Had Dan known about where exactly the ballroom was, he would have instituted the common sense rule, “No drinking around fragile and endangered species.” Though even he had to admit that the fact that no one had been mauled after jumping into the Grizzly Bear pen made the night a wash at worst.

One would assume that jumping into a bear exhibit wouldn’t be an issue, but a couple once almost died at one of the fraternity’s bar tabs after leaving to go fuck, and somehow drunkenly settling on train tracks as the ideal location to express their love. How Brandon finished with that train bearing down him Dan will never know.

Please Jesus don’t let anyone try to fuck each other inside of the bonfire, Dan thought to himself, sort of joking.

Dan walked into the barn and immediately noticed the bar menu.

Beer: $3
Glass of Wine: $7
Bottle of Wine: $17

To Dan it may as well have read, “PCP: Free, with a side of Knife.”

It was last year’s Christmas party, replete with complimentary Rumple Minze shots, when two of their members challenged one of the midgets the chapter had hired to dress as an elf to a fight and lost badly (the midget was armed), all over again.

Dan furiously texted Nick. There was no response. Behind him people were already buying the full bottles of wine.

“Full bottles!” one exclaimed.

“We’ll get so much drunker!” shouted another.

“SO much!”

This was, aside from terrorism, an economic recession kicking in right when he graduated, and a python jumping out, squeezing him to death, and dragging his crushed corpse back into the swamp to feed on it while his family was on vacation in Florida, everything Dan feared.

Two hours passed. Everyone had bottles. Even Dan, who slowly and bitterly sipped on his while watching the chaos unfold around him, helpless to stop it, like a Walmart security guard on Black Friday in a lower middle class neighborhood. Nick was there now, and already aggressively blacked out, as evidenced by his continued referencing of the bottle of Rosé in his hand, named Pink Lamb.


Nick’s last name was Lamb.

In the short time since Dan had gotten to the party he had already seen three sets of couples emerge from the woods, having clearly just banged. At this point Dan would not have minded so much if they had been killed by a bear.

Meanwhile, the bonfire had a large crowd around it. Dan hoped only because it was cold. Still, he felt compelled to run interference between the flames and the people standing around it who were so drunk they were probably flammable. His walk turned into a sprint when he saw someone puke into the fire and then burn their face from puking into the fire. The transition from “BLLLUUUGGGHHHH” to “AHHHHHHHHH” was not a pleasant sound. Like someone… puking into a fire. There is no readily apparent analogy to make here.

“Alright, alright. Back up! Everyone back up you’re too close,” Dan ordered the crowd.

“OH FUCK YEAH! Back up Dan’s gonna jump this motherfucker!”

“No, I’m not,” Dan said, scanning the crowd to see who said that, before realizing it was Nick.

I’m doin’ it,” slurred a brother named Jordan. “Erry’body back the fuck up!”

“No, no, no,” Dan said.

“Go, go, go,” the crowd chanted.

The logs in the middle of the fire were about four feet high. The roaring flame at minimum ten feet. Jordan’s BAC was not lower than 0.2. Dan didn’t like any of these numbers.

Jordan backed up a good distance to get a running start. Dan was also ready to run. As far away from there as he could. Just run until he couldn’t feel anymore. Run deep into the night.


Dan was jarred out of his escape fantasy just in time to see Jordan leave the ground and dive head first over the bonfire. Time slowed to almost a halt for Dan. Jordan was no longer visible. He had disappeared completely into the flames, like in Harry Potter when they use fireplaces to teleport, except in this instance a charred corpse would come out the other end.

“OHHHHHHH,” the crowd roared.

Jordan spilled out the other end of the bonfire, tucked, and rolled. He immediately popped up and began shouting.

“Fuck fuck shit oh fuck ahhhhhh!”

He wasn’t on fire, but he had clearly burned himself going head first into a mini-inferno.

Supportive (also, celebrating) brothers ran up and poured wine on Jordan to cool him off. Dan didn’t even bother protesting. Jordan happily drank as many of the streams of wine as he could before going back to being a half-standing drunken mess.

The rest of the night saw most of the chapter blackout but was otherwise, mercifully for Dan, pretty uneventful. Dan ended up having a lot of fun, actually.

But then someone got hit by one of the busses while everyone was leaving.

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